User Reviews (24)

  • mukava99111 February 2008
    excellent on its own terms
    All right: Susan Sarandon does not resemble the real Doris Duke and is a good 15 years younger and a lot healthier looking than Duke was in the mid-1980's through 1993, when the story takes place; and granted, Ralph Fiennes is far more charming and appealing than the actual Bernard Lafferty. But this movie works because of those two central characters on which the scenario focuses to the exclusion of almost all else. The screenwriter deftly conveys the jet-set lifestyle and grandly tumultuous history of Doris Duke without actually moving us from location to location and decade to decade and we are able to concentrate on what is really a peculiarly moving love story. Duke's relationships with various hangers-on and an adopted daughter are left out entirely. If you are looking for a faithful bio, forget it. If you are looking for a solidly pleasing film with top-notch performances, pounce!

    Sarandon delivers the goods in spades, creating a shrewd and intelligent, bristling flesh and blood woman so wealthy and powerful she answers to no one but suffers from those psychic afflictions known only to the super-rich. Her self-administered therapies include astrology, a fanatical devotion to the care of exotic plants (particularly orchids), travel, indiscriminate sex with a succession of boy toys, and of course massive doses of booze and other drugs to keep going from one day to the next. But she is also intelligent, shrewd, a remarkable businesswoman and connoisseur of the fine arts, all convincingly depicted in this film. It's damned entertaining to watch her but if you think about it, no one of her age with that kind of serious drug dependency could look that good. Fiennes matches her every step of the way with a kind of perturbed restraint as the lonely, passive, alcoholic butler. He says at one point that what he wants from Duke is not her money, but just to take care of her. This utterance is completely believable. Unlike the 1999 TV movie about the same pair starring Lauren Bacall and Richard Chamberlain, this butler is much more ambiguous and definitely not a sadistic manipulator.
  • MarieGabrielle13 February 2008
    9/10
    Sarandon is excellent....
    and the pairing of Ralph Fiennes as Bernard Lafferty, her trusted butler and confidante is quite interesting. I have read the biography "Too Rich, the story of Doris Duke", and this film seems by far, more accurate and even amusing (as life often is). If we for example, compare this to the mediocre Lauren Bacall version, which does not portray Lafferty as human, rather as a murderous bottom-feeder. Too extreme, and probably unrealistic.

    Yes, Ms. Duke did apparently have a very unusual life, but we see her here, as Sarandon plays here, she also enjoyed and cherished life. We see her working fervently on her orchids, all the foundations she was passionate about, and her general intelligence. She was clearly a brilliant businesswoman, as Lafferty interjects.

    This film portrays real people, yes, she had an issue with drinking, as did Lafferty. However there was a tenderness and relationship which seemed to have developed between the two. Overall an interesting commentary with excellent performances and lush cinematography, attention to set decoration. 9/10.
  • Ross17 June 2008
    7/10
    It's all about the characters
    "Bernard and Doris" is a quiet story about a billionairess and her butler brought to life by great actors, a good script and a director that let's them be. Doris Duke inherited millions of tobacco money at a very early age and tried to live a life. Bernard Lafferty was Irish-born, barely literate and simply wanted to do his job -- take care of Doris. He was rewarded, upon her death, with controlling interest in her estate. He died three years later of complications of alcoholism, a disease that plagued him throughout his life. This movie, directed by character actor Bob Balaban and starring Susan Sarandon and Ralph Finnes, is steady and clear in its purpose -- to show us who these people were. Duke was shrewd with her money and philanthropic, too. She gave generously to the arts and education. Her personal life was a mess. She paid for sex with a very young piano player, much to Bernard's displeasure. Rarely do I talk about the soundtrack. It's usually a "heard but not noticed" kind of thing. In "Bernard and Doris" the soundtrack is integral. Wonderful jazz. Bernard worked for Peggy Lee at one point. He knew music and Doris even performed as part of a gospel group. Music was important to this pair. There's even sexual tension here, despite the fact that Bernard was gay. Frankly, that makes it all the more interesting. Finally, there isn't much excitement in "Bernard and Doris." It's all about characters. I found it a joy to watch two of the best actors on the planet become them.
  • jotix10025 June 2008
    7/10
    I love the way you're breaking my heart!
    If there is a clue to the relationship between Doris Duke and her live-in assistant, Bernard Lafferty, it seems to be the moment in which she asks him point blank: "What do you want from me?" After all, Ms. Duke was used to buy people left and right, as it was rumored was the case when she paid a million dollars to French actress Danielle Darrieux for the privilege of divorcing playboy Porfirio Rubirosa. Doris, who evidently got tired of people and things easily, had the upper hand in dealing with what she needed at any particular moment.

    "Bernard and Doris", an HBO film, directed by Bob Balaban, and conceived by Hugh Costello, is based on a relationship that is perhaps a fantasy in the mind of its creators. Fact and fiction are mixed freely, although this movie doesn't try to give us reality because after all, Doris Duke's real life story would have probably made a Hollywood epic.

    Some things that come out in the film show us an heiress who enjoyed sex. That explains her marriage to Rubirosa a notorious man of mystical sexual prowess. Doris is seen bedding a rough man who, while satisfying her, he sought to have fun with her maid as well. When she fired the servant she immediately regrets it because of being fond of the way she worked.

    Bernard Lafferty, a man that had a huge drinking problem, came to work for Doris during her last years. In the film, Bernard is subservient and meek, when reality indicates he probably ruled Doris life with an iron fist. The figure that emerges is not exactly who one could imagine him to be because of the many accusations after Doris' death. The real Lafferty and the screen Lafferty are two different persons.

    The film is worth a look because of the work of the two principals. Susan Sarandon is totally convincing as Doris as is the case with Ralph Fiennes the way his character was conceived for this screen treatment. This is one of Susan Sarandon's best roles in quite some time. Mr. Fiennes is great fun to watch as the gay butler that loved to wear his employer's finery.

    Maurice Rubinstein's cinematography captures the plush interiors of the Duke's estate. Alex Wurman contributed the music score and the editing of Andy Keir work well with Mr. Balaban overall concept.
  • Dave M9 February 2008
    8/10
    Balaban, high production standards,
    I wasn't sold on the idea of watching a film about a rich weirdo and the lawsuits that entail, post-mortem, ala "LIFETIME" nightly movies. I wanted to see Ralph work with Susan, but I still wouldn't have watched unless I researched the production of "Bernard and Doris". I saw Bob Balaban is directing.

    I've never seen Bob Balaban's work as director. I've enjoyed all of Bob's acting credits which I've seen, particularly his improvisational skills in recent SCTV/Spinal Tap-quality films. I figure Bob knows the HW weirdness like nobody else due to his insightful improvisations. He gets it.

    Therefore, he could do it, and bring it in below budget.

    Great direction: Lighting and cinematography were far better than recent films I paid money for. I haven't seen Ralph perform this well since QUIZ SHOW, but he brought his talents to what was clearly a communal table of talent.

    Susan Sarandon does very well, and the Susan/Ralph team works. The script works, and sells the story.

    Balaban seems to have done much more with far less than this film portends to be, even for an HBO FILM.
  • Len987610 July 2008
    9/10
    Fiennes and Sarandon combine a wonderful chemistry!
    As a gay man, I must say that I was captivated by Fiennes brilliant, gentle, and sensitive portrayal of an individual who became Doris Duke's confidante. He was not a gold-digger or a hustler but, rather, a man who had a great deal of love and respect for Doris Duke. I truly believe that he died, just a few short years after Doris Duke's death, because he was heartbroken without her. Like myself, he had no love for money. All he consistently set out to do was to make Doris Duke happy and, in her final years and right up to the end of her life on earth, he successfully achieved that goal by always 'being there' for Doris Duke. Sarandon, like Fiennes, is a top-notch actor. Like fine wine, she gets better and better with age. Was Sarandon too young to play the part of Doris Duke? Absolutely not! She captured Doris Duke's energy, youth, and zeal for life. Like "Emotional Arithmetic," I rate this movie a 9 out of 10. It is captivating. It delivers award-winning performances, and it is definitely a movie worth watching. I've done extensive research on Doris Duke, but the movie brings me much closer to her, and Doris Duke is a person I would like to have known in real life. She was a person filled with positive energy, and Sarandon shows that. Fiennes and Sarandon provide a mirror reflection of the vibrant life of Doris Duke. A gay man can deeply love a woman--but he is drawn, like a magnet, to a person of the same sex. If you will permit me to use a cliché, "a (gay) leopard cannot change his (homosexual) spots," but he has the capacity to love--not in spite of, but because of his "spots." The power to love is greater, and more powerful, than hate.
  • secondtake9 June 2016
    8/10
    Delicate, intense, quiet, wonderfully rendered
    Bernard and Doris (2006)

    A remarkably well told, subtle and moving movie. At first it might seem to about nothing, and the characters are stereotypes. But this is not at all the truth, as both Susan Sarandon and Ralph Fiennes are compelling and complex in their roles.

    What finally happens between this butler who might have a drinking problem in his past and this woman who is a bit loose and unafraid of anyone is something neither of them expected. A kind of true love, though not in a normal, intimate way. Even better, really, respecting their different roles all along. Even at the end, when you know them and love them, the dramatic act that starts and then finishes the movie is tender and profound without a bit of sentiment or cheap heart-tugging. Well done!

    The fact that this is based on a true story (loosely, they say) doesn't change the honest intimacy implied throughout. It's a quite movie—even as dramas go, it has lots of space and very quiet conversation. That's a strength, to me, but a warning to people looking for something more intense.

    Mostly it's the really sincere, remarkable acting by the two leads, who take up almost every minute of screen time. You lose all sense that they are acting. Wonderful stuff. See it if it sounds like it might be your thing. Underrated.
  • MLDinTN11 February 2008
    6/10
    more entertaining than I was expecting
    This movie was OK. I don't know much about Doris Duke, so I don't know how accurate it was. But what I do know is that I found this HBO movie entertaining and a lot better than a lot of movies that get released in theaters. Susan and Ralph were very good in their roles. The movie shows Doris in her later years. She chases younger men and drinks a lot and moves between all her homes and fabulous vacations. She becomes friends with her butler Bernard. She probably likes the fact he likes to drink too and loves to kiss her @ss. She doesn't even mind when she catches him stealing her boos when she states any help stealing from her will get fired. Her death was controversial as to weather Bernard played a role in it and if he had anything to do with her will changing. He got 5 million plus control over her estate and foundation. But he didn't live to many more years after she died.

    FINAL VERDICT: Interesting, amusing. Susan and Ralph were good together and what made this film work.
  • scoochie920 June 2009
    10/10
    A Sadly Beautiful Character Study
    This is a fantastic movie. I don't know thing one about the life and death of Doris Duke, and as it says in the beginning credits: "Some of this film is based on facts...Some of it isn't." What writer Hugh Costello, director Bob Balaban, actors Susan Sarandon and Ralph Fiennes have come up with here is sheer brilliance. Two troubled people who come together, almost accidentally, only to find that each of their unique psychological troubles meshes extremely well with the other's. Yes, it's a story about "enabling" and "codependence", but it's also a story of the power of friendship and loyalty (no matter how sadly unhealthy it might be for both parties involved). I can't say enough good things about the performances of both Sarandon & Fiennes, not to mention all the other actors, and the director, cinematographer, etc... But I must say, the writing is paritcularly effective. The story of these two people's intertwining lives comes off as so true, so kind-of tragic, and so compelling, that I will never forget this film. Bravo!!!
  • tedg8 July 2008
    Driving Miss Doris
    I wonder. Sometimes I really do value something simple done extraordinarily well over something deep and ambitious done incompletely. Its rare, and I can feel it coming on with an aura that gives me warning. At such times, I have films like this ready. You never know if they will work, but you do know generally that they are built to be simple and direct.

    And you can judge something of the approach by the people involved. This was far less perfect than it would have had to been to justify the situation — which is simple. Rich woman, needy subservient man, along the lines of "The Dresser," or a dozen other approaches to the type. She accepts and rewards the devotion. End.

    So you have three individuals here, the two actors and the director. Each is placed for our judgment. Sarandon has by far the simplest task: to portray a simple woman. I believe her to be an actress with one or two mannerisms that were invested long ago in compelling characters, and thus unavailable here. She's not someone you could be charmed by.

    That could work well, even amplify the pitiful state of the character Fiennes plays. Unless he is allowed to shout, Fiennes brings only one quality: the portrayal of the suppressed self. This was perfect for one of my favorite films: "Oscar and Lucinda," where that effect was apt. Unlike Sarandon, he's not afraid to be the same guy over and over.

    Well, we could still be saved by Balaban. He is an intelligent man who knows staging, and who knows paired acting. But he's the big disappointment here. Everything is derived. Nothing is original. The whole idea was supposed to be that this woman was rare, unique. That merely being with her was an experience worth the effort. Fiennes' character is our surrogate, working to get close and stay close. This could have been effected by all manner of dramatic and cinematic devices, none of which seem to have been tried.

    Its as if this were a cheap play, not a rich life and a half.

    Ted's Evaluation -- 1 of 3: You can find something better to do with this part of your life.
  • jeclft9 February 2008
    3/10
    Absolutely Pathetic
    As usual they make another story about Doris and once again the truth never comes out. All of the books are incorrect, and now all of the movies are fabricated trash. Why can't they tell the real story of Miss Duke? Because they have never contacted the people who actually knew her and were with her during her best years. Such a fascinating woman reduced to chasing men and drinking endlessly with a butler whom looked nothing like Ralph Fiennes but more like Louie Anderson. A complete waste of film and time, why focus on the butler who was a corrupt drunk after her money. Focus on the real Doris one day and you will see a woman that is completely different in every way. Such a shame to see this mess that HBO came out with, she wasn't even at Falcon Lair at the end. The whole movie was basically nothing more then fiction and lies. I can't even continue it was so bad...It's really a shame because she was such a fascinating woman, more then anyone will ever know.
  • swinms11 February 2008
    3/10
    Bad - really bad
    I agree with the poster who complained that this movie was full of errors. What could have been an interesting biopic based in fact was played for farce. I wouldn't blame the Duke estate for suing HBO. Surely there was more to this woman than drinking, pot-smoking, humping the young guys who worked for her, and generally behaving like Norma Desmond. It must have been difficult to portray Lafferty as a kind, unassuming, and diligent servant with a sad drinking problem when everything else I've read about him indicates that he was little more than a hustler and a user who ingratiated himself to an aging and infirm heiress. To me, the movie was a big let-down.
  • Gordon-1110 December 2009
    Forgettable if without Susan Sarandon's performance
    This film is about the mysterious relationship between a wealthy woman, Doris Duke, and her butler.

    "Bernard and Doris" is a film that is hard to put a finger on. On one hand, it portrays the mysterious relationship between Bernard and Doris beautifully. What they have is more then just employer and servant, but more like a friend, and even more than just friends. On the other hand, I find a lack of emotional engagement between the story and the viewers. The film and the characters do not make me care about them. Fortunately, Susan Sarandon is amazing as she showcases her acting talent. She is stylishly arrogant at first, assertive but approachable in the middle and frail at the end. "Bernard and Doris" is worth watching just for Susan Sarandon's performance alone. The film would have become quite forgettable without her.
  • Chrysanthepop4 September 2011
    The Extraordinary Relationship Between a Billionairess and Her Butler
    Bob Balaban has made and contributed to an array of interesting films as writer, director and actor. His directorial venture focuses on the relationship of billionairess Doris Duke and her loyal butler Bernard Lafferty. Hugh Costello's writing is solid. The characterization seems accurate enough (at least based on what I've read about Duke and Lafferty). Both are portrayed as strong yet vulnerable humans. Duke did live an unusual life that involved alcohol and casual sex but she enjoyed the freedom of life and travelling. She lived with passion and believed strongly in causes to set up foundations. She was also an excellent businesswoman and loved her plants, especially her orchids. And, this film captures that brilliantly and one can see why a shy Bernard who also shared the same weakness with alcohol would be so taken by a woman like Doris Duke. She can be a difficult woman, especially to those working for her but her appealing sense of liveliness, passion and devotion was admirable and Bernard appreciated that. The tenderness and care in their relationship is portrayed beautifully. Susan Sarandon and Ralph Fiennes are stupendous. Both have effectively captured the essence and strength of their characters delivering strong performances. In addition, the cinematography and art direction are brilliant. Overall, Balaban and Costello have presented an interesting perspective and an intriguing account of a fascinating woman and her relationship with her butler.
  • philipfoxe10 July 2011
    3/10
    Believable but dull
    One thing you can say about this film is that the lead cast do not let you down. There are really only two actors here, Sarandon and Fiennes and they are the only things that stop this film being dreadful. She is quite believable as a rich, bad tempered cosseted poorly educated boor. She radiates everything that is wrong about unearned income. She cares for nothing and nobody but herself and her attempts at 'spiritual development' are so nauseating that it's tempting to fast-forward. Bernard seems such an unperson, a person of such low self-esteem that he only lives through his pathetic arse-kissing of Doris. There really was no reason to make a film about two such dull people. On the plus side though, there is no glossing over the shallowness of their lives, and that's something Hollywood rarely does convincingly.
  • almostgone-129 December 2008
    7/10
    Bad lives, good movie
    Warning: Spoilers
    The film is more than watchable- it's very, very good. Just don't confuse it with biography. Nothing that we know about the reality of either person is admirable. If you forget about the "real" Doris Duke, whoever she "really" was, you can enjoy the performances for what they are- excellent, engaging, even charming, and certainly proficient. Neither actor is ever less than excellent, even when performing poor material, and this material isn't bad. Realistic- well, maybe not so much. The Doris of "Bernard and Doris" was a monster, warped almost beyond human recognition by unimaginable wealth - it's a terrific portrayal of a person who lacks intellect and real education almost entirely but who has unlimited resources for self indulgence - a sort of a rock star cubed. Bernard admired and wanted to BE that monster, as the last scene reveals. Rather instructive, really.
  • rhinocerosfive-11 May 2008
    6/10
    A Show of Horrors, Only Less Interesting
    Warning: Spoilers
    Ralph Fiennes is always fun to watch. He is delicious in this not very good movie, playing an insecure naif awash in the wake of a self-destructive pragmatist. His face and especially his voice evoke pathos of the most intimate sort. Sadly the movie is a waste of his talents and my time.

    Bob Balaban has pretty good taste; it was bred into him. He's of that class of New York intellectuals, whether they come from New York or not (he doesn't) who always seem to say and do the appropriate thing. There's nothing really wrong with his direction here, but the script's eventless enough to give him nothing really very important to do as a director, except not embarrass himself. He doesn't. But he doesn't really distinguish himself either.

    Susan Sarandon, besides being altogether too attractive and healthy-looking to play this part convincingly, belongs to a class of actresses of a certain age, all of whom are very good, none of whom I can watch without thinking, "Well, she's not Meryl Streep, is she?" It's too bad, because she never does anything wrong, and it's certainly not her fault she's not Meryl Streep. I wonder if Meryl loses any sleep over being about 35% better than everybody else.
  • Susan dr Pajzs23 February 2008
    10/10
    Bernard and Doris
    I couldn't look the film up to now. In Eastern-Middle Europe HBO doesn't play it (I have three HBO channels), but the clips and the trailer I could reach were poignant. Two brilliant actor in interesting roles in an interesting situation. I saw the first variation too with Bacall and Chamberlain it was good, but Bernard's role was simplified: a live Lord Voldemort or Gregory Anton from the 'Gaslight', a live Devil. This formulation seems more interesting: a vulnerable, alcoholic, asexual, transvestite girl-man who adores Doris , wants to be like she is , wants a mother whom he missed lifelong, wants to merge in her. No one knows whether this or the previous variation is true. This one is more complicated , more poetic, the realization (on the clips) is closer to me.
  • edwagreen15 February 2008
    5/10
    Bernard and Doris-They're Not Exactly Bonnie and Clyde **
    A tale of two losers, one who happens to be the billionaire Doris Duke.

    With all her money, it is shown that the latter can't bring happiness. Duke lives in a closed-existent world and is soon attracted to her butler played by Ralph Fiennes.

    The scene with the two celebrating her birthday is ridiculous. Fiennes suddenly dresses up with earrings, makeup, etc. To say that he looks ridiculous is to put it mildly.

    This butler was there just for the money. That he gave Duke some happiness was just a matter of coincidence.

    Sarandon is too young for the part. What Bette Davis could have done for this part!

    The film is uneven since it starts with Duke ignoring Lafferty (Fiennes) and suddenly he is the head of the house. It didn't show how he got into her good graces.
  • fwomp2 January 2009
    8/10
    Straight To Cable TV ...But Why?
    Warning: Spoilers
    Watching two powerful and exceptionally talented actors play across from each other is something of a marvel, and that is certainly part of what makes BERNARD AND DORIS a great film.

    Based around the late history of tobacco heiress Doris Duke (here played beautifully by Susan Sarandon, IN THE VALLEY OF ELAH) and her close relationship with butler Bernard Lafferty (the phenomenal Ralph Fiennes, IN BRUGES), the film is a fictional take on the pair's relationship. Although no one knows what really happened between them, it is obvious that a friendship of unique qualities emerged. And Ralph Fiennes and Susan Sarandon are to be complimented on their astounding performances. Particularly Mr. Fiennes, who seems to turn every role he touches into gold (he did this, too, with his portrayal of The Duke of Devonshire in THE DUCHESS). That Ms. Duke left millions of dollars under the stewardship of Mr. Lafferty after her death is a documented fact, proving that she trusted him implicitly (Ms. Duke was a very savvy businesswoman).

    Some might think that sex had a part to play in it, but that would be a fools mistake because Mr. Lafferty was gay. And Ralph Fiennes plays the part of an early homosexual with perfect subtlety. His blossoming occurs under the keen eye of Doris, and the two give each other what they both need: companionship. It is a touching moment when Doris — in a flustered state — yells as Bernard and asks him, "What do you want from me?!" To which he simply replies, "To take care of you." And that is exactly what Doris needed in her waning years.

    As Doris grows older and more ill (a debilitating stroke hits her), Bernard is given the opportunity to truly care for her, and he does so with Doris' final wishes at the forefront ("No one sees Ms. Duke without my permission.") Much of this leads to confrontations with her legal council and those worried about Doris' accumulated wealth. Was Bernard doing as Ms. Duke wished? Or was he just biding his time until Doris died and then pounce on her funds? Regardless what you believe, Bernard was only given $5 million dollars and the rest he oversaw as a steward of many of Doris Duke's foundations. And upon his death (only a few years after Doris'), he donated all of his remaining money back to the Duke Foundation ...which should put to rest any worries about his motives.

    Strangely enough, after this film was shown at a film festival, it was switched from a theatrical release and went straight to cable television. But the bigwigs at the film companies were dead wrong to do that. The performances are stellar and the movie engaging. It has now garnered 10 Emmy nominations (that's a ton!), three Golden Globe nominations, and two Screen Actors Guild nods. Had this movie been released to the general public via theaters, I feel certain it would've garnered even more notice. Shame on whoever let that slip through their fingers...
  • christinequintin13 August 2016
    to see
    Warning: Spoilers
    I have been trying to buy this movie Bernard & Dorias for the last hour on line to watch it and it's been impossible very disappointed I have been trying to buy this movie Bernard & Dorias for the last hour on line to watch it and it's been impossible very disappointed I have been trying to buy this movie Bernard & Dorias for the last hour on line to watch it and it's been impossible very disappointed I have been trying to buy this movie Bernard & Dorias for the last hour on line to watch it and it's been impossible very disappointed I have been trying to buy this movie Bernard & Dorias for the last hour on line to watch it and it's been impossible very disappointed I have been trying to buy this movie Bernard & Dorias for the last hour on line to watch it and it's been impossible very disappointed
  • Raul Faust13 November 2013
    5/10
    Bernard and Doris
    Warning: Spoilers
    "Bernard and Doris" is a quite unique drama that shows a relationship between a rich employer and a homosexual butler. Doris is a character that sometimes resembles the classic Miranda from 2006's "The Devil Wears Prada", while Bernard looks like Alfred from the Batman saga. Even thought we have some nice moments in this story, there isn't too much to care about the whole thing, considering there seems to be no climax to be reached after all. Most of the time it's just simple conversation that will end up meaninglessly, occasionally boring the spectator. It has a good cast and so, but such a contrived storyline doesn't hold the movie too well.
  • Armand17 October 2013
    duel
    two characters, two great actors. and that is all. the story is only the space for use the nuances of acting and to transform the tension in an impressive piece. sure, each film/play has that characteristics. this case is different only because the search of biographic details is almost vain. it is a Sandon - Finnes duel and the levels of character is all. so, it is difficult to compare or expect a story of Doris Duke more than a drawing/sketch with profound subjective lines. it is a beautiful film because it is a meeting with art of two masters of character grinding. and not the physical aspect or the details from a rich lady existence are relevant but the force of duel and the splendor of each step to build it.
  • lasttimeisaw11 December 2010
    7/10
    Bernard And Doris
    This is a HBO film, made exclusively for the small screen, TV films usually cover historical and biographic productions, this one is semi-biographic, the film encircles around the story between the tobacco billionairess Doris Duke and her gay butler Bernard Lafferty.

    Director Bob Balaban is also a well-known actor, so it seems that he knows proficiently how to grapple the camera in front of his actors. The film largely depends on two leads' performances, as the conflict and dramatic friction are subtle and the emotional pulse is limitedly detectable. However the theatrical magic within is a pleasure to watch, Sarandon has not been so intensely brilliant for a rather long time and Fiennes is superb as always to release an energetic power which could dilute Sarandon's sharp embodiment of her character's misery and attractiveness.

    During the progress of watching this film, I can easily perceive the glamor from the exquisite dialogues which are as if a duel between these two protagonists from different hierarchy, how their relationship evolves, how they realize that they are inseparable from a weird but sensible love. When love transcends race, age, class or even sexual orientation, there is always lots of humanity can intrigue us to dwell on in an endlessly labyrinthian way.